SUNDERLAND host Everton on Saturday afternoon in what is a crucial game for both sides, but for very different reasons.
While the Black Cats prop up the rest of the table, seven points adrift of safety, Everton have a genuine chance of making the top four this season and have the luxury of holding their fate in their own hands.
The bookies will make Sunderland, who last week lost 5-1 away at Spurs, the underdogs, but Black Cats boss Gus Poyet will need to instil a sense of belief in his players if they are to get anything out of the game.
Poyet has to drop this formation of playing three centre backs. It has not worked up until now and it has come to the point where experimentation should be attempted if one’s survival is not up for stake.
Poyet needs to give his players the freedom to play football and not worry about the repercussions (although there clearly are), it is the only way the likes of Adam Johnson and Seb Larsson can return to the form they were showing earlier on in the season.
In terms of their opponents, Everton are in superb form and their 3-0 demolition of Arsenal at home last Sunday reiterated why they could qualify for the Champions League next season. The combined experience of Wes Borwn and John O’Shea is capable of nullifying Romelu Lukaku, while a caged Jozy Altidore should be unleashed to tackle the young John Stones.
Sunderland fans, all hope is not lost and it is never over until the fat lady sings. Don’t be surprised if the Black Cats give Roberto Martinez’s side a tough game this weekend and at an atmospheric Stadium of Light anything is possible.
•This article was written by FTBpro’s Richard Bell.
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